Yesterday I was blessed to see Andrew Pudewa speak. He was updating a talk that is currently on his website. The main theme of the talk was "What would I tell a new parent about developing their children's language skills?" Two things - read aloud and memorize (especially poetry).
I listened to the earlier version of this talk so I was familiar with most of what he was discussing. I am fond of encouraging parents to not stop reading aloud once their children can read for themselves. The Circe Institute has a posted about this phenomenon as well. That's one thing I love about Charlotte Mason, the emphasis she places on reading good literature. Many of the blogging mom's I like best encourage this as the core of a great education. Last night Mr. Pudewa asserted that if you just spent a whole year reading aloud for 3 or 4 hours a day your kids would probably look back and say that was the year they learned the most. Good thing this is one of my favorite things to do with the kids. The grandparents often wonder at the 4yo's vocabuarly - it's because he listens to everything we read aloud and he follows it well. Last week as we read part of The Long Winter he was pacing and came close to asking me to stop when they got lost in the snow storm - the tension was too much for him.
As to memorization this is not even considered a good educational technique by most educators today. What value does it have when you can google it? Well, it grows your brain, gives you forms for writing and expressing yourself in more complicated ways and can provide great entertainment for you and others. He mentioned that when you read old books they talk about "saying their lessons". Earlier this week we learned that Laura had memorized the 4th reading primer (I am assuming McGuffey). Memorized it! No wonder she is a great writer - she had a great store in her head to pull from and experiences worth sharing.
Mr. Pudewa's background is in Suzuki violin - where you memorize your repertoire. What stuck out to me most was the need to review constantly what you have already learned. I am not always good about doing that. With Suzuki he talked about "every piece every day" and he advocated the same for poetry - until it gets to be too much and then you can alternate or rotate the pieces you practice. This made me realize that once again, less is more. If you can't review it regularly then you are probably doing too much and it won't stick anyway.
I also appreciated his recommendation of looking for gross, funny, and violent poems to help attract boys to the form and then from there move into what he called the "Girls" Garden of Verses. He recommended Hillaire Belloc, Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstien. He especially like Belloc which bolstered my decision to use his poem "The Frog" as our first poem next year.
Once he posts the updated talk on his website I will let you know.